The RFL and RFU are teaming up to launch a new rugby initiative in the Midlands, with Coventry lined up to be established as a leading world city for both codes of the game.
Given the name ‘Coventry, a City of Rugby’ (CoR), its ultimate aim is to establish Coventry as one of the leading cities in the world for every level of the sport by 2023 – rugby’s 200th anniversary.
The project will see a group of key organisations in the city work together to develop a framework to help grow both codes of rugby at all levels.
Both league and union will be promoted by the project, which also aims to bring rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, integrity, enjoyment and discipline to a wider group of people in the city.
Local sporting bodies and educational providers, as well as others, have formulated plans as part of the 10-year Coventry Sports strategy to help drive this process forward.
The project will look to build on Coventry’s rugby heritage, and aims to: increase participation, improve rugby facilities, unlock funding to support clubs and attract major rugby events to the city, with a particular focus on making the game more accessible to women and girls, people with disabilities, and those from non-traditional rugby playing backgrounds.
A Steering Group has been set up with representatives from all major rugby interests in the city to oversee the seven-year strategy.
The group is co-ordinated by the Engage! Coventry programme, working closely with the RFL and RFU.
Jon Roberts, Director of Performance and Development at the Rugby Football League (RFL). said: “Coventry has a proud history of pioneering Rugby League within the Midlands, with Coventry Bears having won major honours in the past including the National League and providing a stepping stone for players at the Midland Regional Academy to play at the highest level.
“We look forward to building upon this reputation through the delivery of the City of Rugby initiative, which will develop rugby league in the region and create a player pathway to support talented coaches, players, volunteers and referees across both rugby league and union.”
Steve Grainger, rugby development director at the Rugby Football Union (RFU), said: “As the national governing body for rugby union in England, we are committed to developing the game from the grassroots to the elite level across the country.
“Coventry, a City of Rugby, is a pioneering initiative which will work to achieve that. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Engage! and the RFL to deliver this fantastic programme which will help to grow participation and promote the core values of our game.”
Tom Clift, Programme Manager of educational rugby initiative Engage! Coventry, said: “We have a fantastic and unique opportunity to seize the moment and build on Coventry’s rich rugby heritage, inspiring people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to regularly participate in the game.
“The City of Rugby initiative is not just about getting people involved in playing or coaching rugby – we also recognise the integral role the core values of the game can play in uniting communities, addressing public health inequalities and promoting educational, social and behavioural change within targeted groups, which we aim to maximise and promote to build a better city.”
The City of Rugby Steering Group is a formal collaboration between the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Rugby Football League (RFL), Engage! Coventry, Coventry Sports Network, Coventry Rugby, Wasps, Coventry Bears, Warwickshire RFU, Premiership Rugby, Coventry Sports Foundation, Coventry Sports Trust, Coventry City Council, University of Warwick, Coventry University, C&W Chamber of Commerce, Coventry Schools Union and the Millerchip Family Fund.